Vast Racial Disparities in America’s Public Schools Persist, Data Show

Education News 06.7,16

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Tuesday released results of its survey – the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) – providing a comprehensive look at how more than 95,000 public schools in the United States are educating the nation’s children.

The data, which is from the 2013-14 school year, paint a bleak picture for minority students in our public schools.

“Students of color are now the majority of our nation’s public school system, but our educational system continues to deny too many of these students an equal educational opportunity. The data reinforce what we already know and hear from students, parents, and communities: we need more school counselors and fewer police, more preschool and calculus, and less suspension and expulsion,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “I’m pleased to see that an active and assertive campaign from students, parents, and civil rights advocates has helped to reduce slightly the vast racially and disability-driven disparities in exclusionary discipline, but that progress means little to students who are needlessly pushed out of classrooms and denied their chances to learn.”

According to the data, racial disparities in school discipline start early. Black students account for 19 percent of preschool enrollment, but they represent 47 percent of students who have been suspended one or more times. For Black girls in particular, the disparity is even worse – while they account for 20 percent of female enrollment, they represent 54 percent of girls receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.

“We applaud the Department of Education for continuing its emphasis on robust civil rights data collection, which helps to identify our nation’s gaps in educational opportunity,” Henderson said. “But data alone won’t ever solve these problems. For that, we need concerted and coordinated action between families, community advocates, educators, administrators, and policymakers to attack these problems with zeal. Our students deserve nothing less.”

The Leadership Conference Education Fund recently released research on the educational priorities and opinions of Latino and African-American parents, which is largely consistent with the findings of the CRDC.

Learn more about today’s CRDC release here.